Posted by Dale Buss on February 18, 2011 12:30 PM
The budget knives in Congress may be out for a particularly sacred cow – or should we say, fowl – and the Muppet world is striking back. Sesame Street even found some friends to come and play in the political fray.
PBS Kids icon Arthur, a beloved animated aardvark that sprang from books to the screen, along with Sesame Street stalwarts Big Bird and Elmo, lined up on Wednesday morning as props for Democratic congressmen who are opposed to Republicans’ targeting of government funding for their broadcast homes.
In the wake of the Juan Williams kerfuffle last fall — in which National Public Radio fired the commentator for remarks that were allegedly insensitive to ethnicity — the GOP could be expected to come after taxpayer financing of liberally minded NPR and PBS. It has always bugged conservatives that their tax dollars go to fund such a bulwark of leftist journalism, and the political consensus behind significant federal budget cuts right now could make their goal easier.
But PBS and its backers aren't kidding around, and they're using more than just the cuddly characters that entertain millions of American pre-schoolers every day.
NPR CEO Vivian Schiller is warning that cutbacks would deprive tens of millions of Americans in “rural and under-served” areas of NPR broadcasts.
Other potential victims of threats to the Sesame Street franchise would be the handful of food and beverage brands that have product-licensing deals with the beloved children’s show, including Earth’s Best and Apple & Eve juices.
There’s been no official word yet from the brands. They might be waiting to see if Big Bird can handle the struggle on his own.